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Always bailing out DB – WWYD?

(108 Posts)
WagnersFourthSymphony Tue 18-Aug-20 22:00:20

This is a first world problem so I feel bad even asking about it. DH and I are comfortably off. My brother, who lives in another country, isn’t. He is self-employed and his business hasn’t been doing well, even before Covid. He is a recovering alcoholic who let things slide. His wife, who kept their finances under control, finally washed her hands of him ten years ago and I can’t say I blame her. He has been with his new partner since his post-divorce rehab and she has helped him two or three times to get back on the wagon, the last time with an ultimatum. As far as I know he’s been TT for a good couple of years.

Nevertheless, his business isn’t making ends meet. Or something. It involves him making big cash layouts which he can’t always recover from his clients – the weather gets in the way, or the client goes back to England. (I don’t understand why he doesn’t get payment on account, but that’s beside the point.)

So every six months or so he asks us for a big bailout. These are always couched as loans but of course there is never anything formal (that would be unthinkable) and since his divorce we have never received a penny back, nor do we expect to.

It’s coming to a lot of money over the years. I honestly don’t know what would become of him if we didn’t help. His partner works hard, but in a low wage job. But I’m starting to feel resentful. Perhaps it’s my problem rather than his? I feel as if I’m going without things I’d like (a new car, for example) to help him out, though the things I’m going without aren’t things I actually need.

No other members of the family are aware of this. I don’t know if even his partner knows about it. DH is an absolute hero. If he resents it at all, he doesn’t show it. He just shrugs and says we do what we can, and we’d do it for any other member of the family too. And have.

But I feel my brother is taking the piss. He’s always resented the different life I’ve had ever since I did well at school, and this feels like his revenge. DH has suggested asking him man to man what steps he’s taking to put his business on a more practical footing, but that might appear overly aggressive. (DB is thin-skinned.) It’s not as if we can’t afford the subs, which look as if they will have to continue forever.

We are enabling him. I am reluctant to challenge him for risk of pushing him over the edge.

What would you do?

OP’s posts: |
Perching Tue 18-Aug-20 22:07:36

Just stop. Are you sure you are the only family member that does this, considering it’s all shrouded in secrecy?

If you have to bail him out every 6 months it’s not a business anyway.

You are buying his employment and keeping busy. Have you totted up the amount and laid it out to him. Honestly just stop, it will never change.

Have you ever worked out how many days of the month you essentially work for your brother?????

WagnersFourthSymphony Tue 18-Aug-20 22:21:44

Oh, there's absolutely no question that anyone else is subbing him. It's delicacy and discretion rather than secrecy. Wouldn't want to embarrass him or make anyone else envious.

We know exactly how much we've paid. There is no way he could ever pay it back. He would find it intrusive if we asked more about his finances. My ex-SIL was diligent about book-keeping and paying off debts, and curbing household expenditure - his DP now is not a book-keeper though an enthusiastic cook. But even her relative extravagance in the kitchen wouldn't account for half of it.

I agree, it's not a 'business' even though he goes out to work and does a skilled job and sometimes gets paid. But the local tax authorities assume you're making a certain amount anyway and tax you on that.

AFAIK he doesn't gamble, never has, so heaven knows where the money's going. It's a fairly regular (large) amount.

I would never forgive myself if I drove him back on the bottle by being difficult when I should be generous.

OP’s posts: |
Aknifewith16blades Tue 18-Aug-20 22:35:44

Maybe you should be generous by not saving him from the fallout of his actions? Maybe you should be generous to yourself for a change?

If the business isn't working, then he could get a different job.

Perching Tue 18-Aug-20 22:46:52

But WHY don’t you want to embarrass him? He should be! Will anything galvanise him into action?

And you won’t drive him back to alcohol, that is HIS choice.

Is there a lot of pussyfooting around him in general?

If I were you I would have this thread moved to relationships. There are many knowledgable posters there that can help you unpick this, bailing him out is the tip of the iceberg I suspect.

Where is your parents in this?

Why do you allow yourself to be treated like this? He clearly has no respect for you, your time, your money, your marriage.

Is he used to no consequences in life? Does someone always bail him out/manage him? Like his first wife?

Do you have children?

Perching Tue 18-Aug-20 22:54:50

And if he is not the nou relative that you are subbinh, why would you do this?? Is your time (and therefore money) not important to you?
Do you make yourself feel better that you did well and they didn’t by giving them money? Soothing your own conscience in a way.

I am from a poor country, immigrant to the UK. I am so grateful to be here and felt guilty that they are not. A few pounds go a looooong way there. Until the treats started to be expected, It bred resentment on my part and jealousy and expectation on theirs, and really didn’t do any relationship any favour. Just stop. Value yourself, your time, your hard work paid off and you are doing well. We all make our own life choices, and he has made his. You are not responsible for that!!

Perching Tue 18-Aug-20 22:55:54

*not the only relative you are subbing

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Tue 18-Aug-20 23:05:24

What would I do? Stop paying him. You are simply enabling him.

cantstopsinginglittlebabybum Tue 18-Aug-20 23:06:26

How much have you given him op?

If it's £1000 every 6 months or so it could be so he doesn't default on his mortgage and bills but if it's £10,000 every 6 months then that is a very different situation.

7yo7yo Tue 18-Aug-20 23:21:09

Stop being a mug and a martyr. Your enabling him.
If he hits the bottle again, it’s on him not you.
I feel sorry for your DP/DH.

WagnersFourthSymphony Tue 18-Aug-20 23:23:33

Parents long dead. He was the golden boy.

He is trained for this work. Too old for anything else. One of his sons helps him in the business - mercifully only on a sub-contracting basis. I suspect the current subs are to pay for the sub-contracts but it's only a hunch. His other son is in a different trade and doing well. Probably not well enough to sub his dad, though.

Yes, we have an adult son, earning a reasonable wage. He is OK - but would probably be shocked to learn of these subsidies. But generous, like his father.

I have a sister who isn't well off but frugal. She knows she can always turn to us for support but never has, probably never will. In our wills we will even it out between the siblings (and the amount will shock her dreadfully and piss off DB if he's expecting more) but that will be all rather late in the day. sad

Is DB used to no consequences in life? Hmm, good question. He always feels hard done by. That it's all right for some. I've never really thought of it this way (always feeling the guilty undeserving one) but perhaps he's a bit inclined to tantrums and it's always felt like a bit of a success to keep him calm and even, and people around him happy rather than anxious. It's always been my problem, my fault. He's younger than me - there is a whole history there of how I was a selfish and neglectful older sister.

Perching We have subbed other relatives when they have needed it because we can. Especially in a low-taxed economy like ours it feels like a duty of those who are better off to look after those family members who aren't.

If we stopped paying him he might never speak to us again. Perhaps that wouldn't be a great loss in some ways - we have little in common - but I would need a long time to get my head round that. In my family, family is everything because that is all we have.

OP’s posts: |
Greyblueeyes Tue 18-Aug-20 23:30:33

You need to stop. His alcohol and spending problems are his and his alone. Stop taking money from your own family to fix his messes. It sounds like you have given him large amounts of money.

Call or text him, and tell him the gravy train has stopped. You aren't responsible for his actions. And by continuing to bail him out, you are ensuring that he will never grow up and act like an adult.

You are doing more harm than good for both him and your own family.

Greyblueeyes Tue 18-Aug-20 23:32:40

Why are you meaning your siblings money in your wills? Why isn't it going to your son?

HollowTalk Tue 18-Aug-20 23:35:49

Honestly, he wouldn't speak to you if you didn't continue to give him money? Think about that. It's a really awful state of affairs - he is taking money from you and you are too scared to say no in case he stops all contact.

As for your other sister - she sounds lovely and if you have spare money I'd send it in her direction every now and then.

HollowTalk Tue 18-Aug-20 23:36:46

Self-employment is nothing more than a hobby if it doesn't bring in any income. He needs to get a job.

Brokensunrise Tue 18-Aug-20 23:42:00

You’re giving him loads of money and he wouldn’t even have the decency of talking through with you how to stop this happening again, how the business is going etc? He really thinks the world owes him a favour doesn’t he..... You are just enabling him to continue like this and wasting all your money. You can’t keep doing this. Think of yourselves, pensions, savings, potential care home fees (a way off hopefully!) and your own rainy day fund - as well as enjoying your own life! Why should he get all the perks of your careful money management and earning? Tell him he’s not getting anymore, please OP. He’s taking the piss and clearly doesn’t respect you.

WagnersFourthSymphony Tue 18-Aug-20 23:48:22

You need to stop. His alcohol and spending problems are his and his alone. Stop taking money from your own family to fix his messes. It sounds like you have given him large amounts of money.

Call or text him, and tell him the gravy train has stopped. You aren't responsible for his actions. And by continuing to bail him out, you are ensuring that he will never grow up and act like an adult.

You are doing more harm than good for both him and your own family.

I maybe shouldn't have mentioned the alcohol. It was how he got into this mess - an unnecessary detail. I don't think he's drinking now, though he must have been in the past when we bailed him out. But I suspect he lost a lot of business goodwill while he was on the juice.

DH and DS and I certainly aren't suffering as a result of the bailouts. I'm just being pettily resentful. We are not by any stretch of the imagination in need. We can afford these payments.

I don't know why the business isn't working. There is always a different reason. I've only noticed it's habitual because I'm a horrible suspicious person. At least during the lockdown he was getting a government subsidy, which he mentioned and for which he was grateful. Now it's stopped he needs more help because the customers aren't there...

It won't do him any good to be without good food on the table. He could very easily spiral into despair and drive away another good partner, ending up homeless and jobless.

OP’s posts: |
TW2013 Tue 18-Aug-20 23:51:50

I would make some comments about needing to plan for your retirement and that you need to start tampering off the subsidy. Lay out how much you have paid over the last ten years which hasn't been repaid and that you need to reduce and then stop the payment. You could just stop it but you might be happier to tamper it off. If you usually pay 1000 a year just give 750 or 500 next year etc. If he was always the golden boy then it will be a shock initially but he is in a different country, your parents are dead so he probably doesn't have many people who know you to moan to. Maybe warn your sister so she is prepared if he comes to her.

TheFaerieQueene Wed 19-Aug-20 00:00:29

I’m amazed you are leaving your siblings money in your will. They aren’t your responsibility. You have been very generous to your brother, which is commendable, but you need to put your needs and that of you immediate family to the fore. If you need or want a car - get it.

WagnersFourthSymphony Wed 19-Aug-20 00:03:35

I would make some comments about needing to plan for your retirement and that you need to start tampering off the subsidy. Lay out how much you have paid over the last ten years which hasn't been repaid and that you need to reduce and then stop the payment. You could just stop it but you might be happier to tamper it off. If you usually pay 1000 a year just give 750 or 500 next year etc. If he was always the golden boy then it will be a shock initially but he is in a different country, your parents are dead so he probably doesn't have many people who know you to moan to. Maybe warn your sister so she is prepared if he comes to her.

Thank you - I'd already thought along those lines, but it feels a bit dishonest. He doesn't know anything about our circumstances, so I could get away with the lie. It's very very tempting. But why should I?

The only reason for tapering it off would be if I thought he could gradually manage without it. Every time he asks, it's always the last time, he says. And actually we both know that in extremis, we would pull out the stops.

It would always be on my conscience if anything happened to him and it had been in my power to prevent it.

He would surely never ask my sister and BIL for anything - he knows they haven't got a sou. And pride would forbid; she lives close by. She would probably tell him to get lost anyway - she's younger and has never been responsible for him the way I have!

OP’s posts: |
WagnersFourthSymphony Wed 19-Aug-20 00:07:27

It's interesting seeing how I'm using family dynamics as an excuse. shock I wasn't really conscious of it till now.

OP’s posts: |
DeRigueurMortis Wed 19-Aug-20 00:25:13

Have you considered that these continued bailouts are actually counterproductive?

In essence you're providing a safety net that's likely impeding your brothers ability to get his own shit together.

If he chooses to fall off the wagon that's not your fault because you didn't give him money.

As an adult that was his decision and you need to let him own it.

At the very least I'd suggest you need to to get tough about what the money you "lend" is being used for. If it's for the business then he needs to show you the accounts and in turn provide proof of everything your "re-financing" has paid for - if necessary the next "loan" is in exchange for a share in his businesses.

I feel you've adopted some sort of Lady Bountiful role with your brother that has almost a co-dependent element about it.

Just because you can afford to do something doesn't make it a good investment and I don't mean that in a financial sense but both in an emotional context and in regard to helping your brother in the long term.

tenlittlecygnets Wed 19-Aug-20 00:29:35

It involves him making big cash layouts which he can’t always recover from clients.
What kind of business is this? Sounds very dodgy. I would stop bailing him out at all. If you can’t even tell you why his business is in trouble and he is reticent about giving you financial facts about the company, that’s a red flag.

Your money should be going to your family and your children, not to him. If his business card support him, then that’s a hobby, not a business. He is an adult - it’s up to him to sort it out.

HelenUrth Wed 19-Aug-20 00:29:58

"In my family, family is everything because that is all we have."
But in your family, it only seems to work one way.

"He could very easily spiral into despair and drive away another good partner, ending up homeless and jobless."
Why is this your responsibility?

Why is this grown up man not responsible for himself?
What happened in your childhood that things have come to this?

fiveguy Wed 19-Aug-20 00:46:31

Why are you leaving siblings money in your will. It should go to your son

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